Monday, April 25, 2011

Wakuriya - A Hidden Gem In San Mateo (San Mateo, CA)


These days, I'm pretty excited in going back home to Northern California. One of the reason is the fact I have a great group of dining buddies to eat with. On a recent visit back, I was assigned the task of finding a restaurant in the area. Although given a virtual carte blanche, since this was a Sunday night, I was limited in terms of selections. I was suggested Wakuriya by Gourmet Pigs, and although I love Japanese food, I had my doubts at first. However, after reading her review, those doubts were quickly put aside. Did she give me a good recommendation? We shall see....

Complimentary Refreshment: white grape & nagomi sake
Complimentary Drink: White Grape and Nagomi Sake

After given a warm towel and the day's menu, we were also given a shot of a complimentary white grape and Nagomi sake. Refreshing and fruity. Delicious.

Sakizuke (Starter): homemade yaki goma-dofu
Sakizuke (Starter): homemade yaki goma-dofu
1. Sakizuke: Homemade yaki goma dofu (oven-grilled sesame tofu with wasabi sizzling in dashi broth on a hot iron pan)

I really enjoyed the sesame tofu sizzling in the pan. The tofu itself had a subtle, yet apparent sesame taste. The wasabi provided a nice kick to this dish.

Zensai (Appetizers)
"renkon manjyu" (lotus root cake)
2. Zensai: Assorted Appetizers (From Left:
braised "kamo" (duck) - negi miso sauce with "komatsu-na" (Japanese mustard spinach) salad.
"renkon manjyu" with fresh uni topping
seared Hokkaido "hotate" grape and daikon sauce

Next came the trio of appetizers. I would have to say the duck was my favorite of the trio. I really enjoyed the texture and flavors of the duck. Also, the lotus root cake with uni was quite nice, though I'm a big fan of uni in general. The sweetness from the grapes actually went pretty well with the seared scallop. All in all, a successful trio.

Mushi mono (steamed dish): tai to kabura no konabe jitate
3. Mushi Mono: Tai to kabura no konabe jitate (snapper and "kabura" (turnip), sun smiling valley farms shimeji mushroom, vegetable and clear noodles with "tororo-kombu" (shredded kelp) steamed in tiny clay pot)

Now this was very nice, especially for a chilly Fall evening when I had my meal at Warikuya. The snapper, mushrooms, turnip, and vegetables all combined into a fantastic kelp based broth. The only thing I was upset about was that I didn't get a bigger pot of this dish.

Tsukuri (sashimi): Today's Chef's Choice
Tsukuri (sashimi): Today's Chef's Choice
4. Tasukuri: Today Chef's Choice Sashimi (tosa shoyu (bonito soy sauce))

Sashimi, it's one of my favorites, especially a nice fatty cut of toro like the one pictured above. All the fish we tasted were fresh and quite delicious, but the toro was definitely my favorite!

Age mono (Deep fried fish): ebi shinjo no nasu hasami-age
Age mono (Deep fried fish): ebi shinjo no nasu hasami-age
5. Age Mono: Ebi shinjo no nasu hasami-age (deep fried shrimp cake sandwiched between sliced Japanese eggplant. Vegetable Tempura)

Another one of my favorites is the tempura. Unlike the usual sweet potato and shrimp, here we have an eggplant sandwich, with shrimp cake in the middle of the eggplant.The batter to the tempura was surprisingly light, and with the dipping sauce, it was quite pleasant to eat.

Hashiyasume: gelée
6. Hashiyasume: Gelée (fresh tomato extract sorbet and "shiso" sorbet)

This was just what we needed, a palate cleanser. I enjoyed the tart flavor of the tomato sorbet and the strong shiso flavor of the second sorbet. The shiso and tomato marriage was perfect!

On mono (hot dish): washugyu no sukiyaki
7. On Mono: Washugyu no Sukiyaki (simmered washu beef, vegetables and tofu in tomato flavored sweet soy sauce served with soft boiled quail egg in "me-nabe" (eye shaped iron pan))

Delicious tender washu beef. Soft tofu. Soft poached quail egg. All bathed in a tomato based soy sauce. Tell me if that sounds good. Ya, it was damn good! The best part was breaking the yolk in the pan and the creamy flavors accented the overall dish. This was pretty fantastic.

Gohan mono (rice dish): tai chazuke
8a. Gohan Mono: Tai Chazuke (tai snapper with sesame sauce over rice in dashi broth)

Next, we had a choice of rice dishes to close out the savory part of the menu. Naturally we decided to share both choices. First, I had the tai chazuke. Chazuke has always been something I enjoyed making at home (from the pre packaged powder), but this was definitely a notch above what I made at home. Here we have rice in a dashi broth was a tender piece of tai snapper. This was simple, yet quite delicious.

Gohan mono (rice dish): kani-tama an-kake gohan
8b. Gohan Mono: Kani-tama an-kake gohan (Alaskan snow crab in egg omelet with thickened dashi sauce over rice)

The last rice dish was good, but this one was even better, at least for me. I loved the crab omelet on top of the rice with the thickened dashi broth. The sweetness of the crab meat just goes so well together with the egg. I could easily eat 2-3 bowls of this stuff.

Homemade Dessert: delicate "shira-tama" mochi trio
Homemade Dessert: delicate "shira-tama" mochi trio
9. Homemade Dessert: Delicate "shira-tama" mochi trio (plain, "matcha," and cocoa and fresh fruit jelly, homemade "azuki-an" (sweet red bean paste), crème anglaise)

Now, I love dessert. I think most people that knows me well, know I love anything sweet (except donuts). So this isn't a biased remark, but I personally believe this dessert was the best course of the evening. This dessert was just really really good. I absolutely the fruit jelly, the 3 different mochi "pops." That crème anglaise was just fantastic. I could not have had a better dish to end my meal with.


I will have to say Wakuriya easily exceeded my expectations. The husband and wife team of Katsuhiro and Mayumi Yamasaki have made Wakuriya into one of Bay Area's best restaurants. So much so, it has earned its first Michelin Star for 2011. I'm looking forward to dining here again on my next visit to the Bay Area. Thanks for the rec GP!

115 De Anza Blvd.
San Mateo, CA 94402-3988
(650) 286-0410


gourmetpigs said...

Glad you enjoyed it! (if you didn't we need to have a talk lol)
Your meal looks great, makes me want to come back to Wakuriya soon. I love goma dofu, and I want that rice dish with crab.

Darin said...

Nice..I've got to try this. How much was this meal?

Anna A. said...

wowza! I want! Props to the Bay Area. #winning

weezermonkey said...


Kung Food Panda said...

Fiona: We need to talk, you should have told me about this place sooner! I hope to make it back here on my next trip back home. I loved it!

Darin: 9 courses, $90. Check it out!

Anna: #winning!!!!

WM: Thanks! :)

Bonnibella said...

I always wondered about this place, looks like a reasonable price for the tasting menu. We should meet up in Vegas for the kaiseki menu at Raku.

Gastronomer said...

Any chance I can swing by for just dessert? I need those little balls!

Kung Food Panda said...

Bonni: Name the time, I want to try that Kaiseki menu at Raku.

Cathy: You should go for the whole tasting menu! said...

Food envy! I need to visit you guys SOON.

Kung Food Panda said...

Chef Pandita: This was in Nor Cal, but come visit! :)

bagnatic said...

9 courses for $90 almost seems like a deal. :p

great pics on this one too.

Kung Food Panda said...

Amy: I wouldn't say it's a "deal," but it's at a fair price. Thanks! :)